Malawi’s food security situation has generally improved due to this year’s harvest, which has resulted in lower prices for the staple crop on the market, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report for 2014.
However, this is against the backdrop of a Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report, which indicated that an estimated 640 000 people in the country will require food assistance due to localised production shortfalls, following a dry spell in early 2014. This is compared to the 1.5 million people estimated to have been without food in 2013.
“Stable weather conditions, increased plantings and government support, which promoted greater access to farm inputs, resulted in larger crop of 3.9 million tonnes. Prices of maize in Malawi; which are beginning to increase seasonally; are generally below their year-earlier levels, reflecting the increased 2014 outputs,” reads part of FAO’s crop prospects and food situation report.
The report, however, said for the 2014/2015 season, the country, which is classified among the low income food deficit countries, will need to import cereals estimated at 111 000 tonnes.
On the 2014/2015 growing season, the report said rainfall forecasts indicate an increased chance of normal to above-normal rains throughout most of the region in southern Africa.
“The forecasts also take into account the 60 to 65 percent chance of an El Nino manifesting during this period, which is normally associated with below-average rains in some parts of the region,” said the report.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has described the general trend in food security in the whole region as positive with Zimbabwe registering a high value of 77 percent and Madagascar the least with 1.6 percent.
In a recent statement, Comesa technical committee on agriculture, environment and natural resources said food security situation in the region is good.
It estimated that agriculture contributes more than 32 percent of Comesa’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 80 percent of its labour force.
To sustain the growth in production, Comesa has developed programmes aimed at addressing the challenge facing the region in ensuring food security and how to stimulate strong and dynamic agriculture-industry link through sustainable increases in overall agricultural production.
Reads the statement: “Working through the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa Region and the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership, Comesa has formulated a programme on the harmonisation of fertiliser policies and regulations in the region.